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Finished Handmade Quilting

July, August and October in the SugarBlock Club {handmade}

10/02/2017

In February we’re well into 2017 and yet this week I seem to be ignoring the changing of the year and sticking resolutely to my 2016 plans.  My current knitting is Pip’s Christmas jumper, now on the right front with only sleeves, hood and just the 3 balls of yarn to go, and I thought it was high time that we had a little quilting update to see where I’d got to on the question of the Sugarblock Quilt, or possibly quilts.

Selling a house and making a quilt are not the happiest of bedfellows, the one requiring our habitually chaotic studio to look as though no one ever so much as opened a paint tube in it and the other inevitably shedding teeny tiny little snips of white thread all over the floor.  In the flurry of viewings my blocks and precut bits and pieces have spent a lot of time stacked up in a corner, but over Christmas I had a bit of a quilting flurry and spent some happy evenings holed up in the studio sewing my way through the months.

The last block I showed you was the first of the Maritime Stars and the second, while cut out, was scattered to all corners of the house when we moved some furniture around.  Finally brought back together it looks like this:

Space for the Butterflies - The SugarBlock Club Quilts

As blocks go it’s still my favourite of the whole quilt, and only the prospect of paper piecing all those sections holds me back from making a full size quilt from them.  Maybe I shouldn’t throw it off entirely but just save it for later in the hope that in years to come there might be a little bit more time and it will feel achievable.

So that brought us to August and Shenadoah.

It’s a variation on the Virginia Star, the sort of star your mind conjurs up when you think of a star quilt, and this version is the perfect canvas to show off some pretty fabric.

Space for the Butterflies - The SugarBlock Club Quilts

This blue Paris print I bought to make a dress for Kitty; she wore it, Elma still wears it and the leftover fabric is still featuring in quilts and little scrap projects and when it’s finally all used up I will be a little bit sad.

Space for the Butterflies - The SugarBlock Club Quilts

For the other block I choose the elephants, both to show that that actually is the pattern; lots of other blocks have had snippets of trunk or tail so it’s nice to put them all together and reassemble poor Nelly, and to add balance.  I think this is one of the most dominant fabrics in all of the blocks, and I know when I added the first block with it in I thought I’d made a horribly mistake.  The more I add, the more balance the quilt gets. At least that’s the theory.

I’ve hopped over September for a minute because it’s another part paper pieced pattern and our printer hasn’t been the same since Pip decided to feed it felt tip pens, and moved straight on to October and the bear paws.

Space for the Butterflies - The SugarBlock Club Quilts Space for the Butterflies - The SugarBlock Club Quilts

And it was at this point that I realised that even raiding my stash for unused fat quarters, the scraps are not going to make it to the end.  The two bear paw blocks are made from the only fabrics that I had on hand with enough to make the paw, and I’m pretty sure I’ve exhausted the elephants and the blue spots now.  I know this was hoping to be an entirely from stash sort of a quilt, both for the satisfaction of making something from leftovers and because big quilt splurges are not in the current budget, but I’m hoping to find a handful of fat quarters just to get me to the very end.

And I do now have a plan for the very end.  It’s going to be two quilts.  I’ve got September, November and December blocks to go and then I’ll have 24 in total, hopefully vaguely hanging together in some semblance of order.  I loved the layout that Amy suggested (taken from her Quilt Block Cook Book), a diamond of 12 blocks set in a white background; the blocks shine, there’s nothing to compete with them and overall it’s gentle on the eye.  But not necessarily that practical.

Space for the Butterflies - The SugarBlock Club Quilts

(I can no longer fit all of the blocks on the floor and it keeps raining outside, so this is just a snippet!)

I think of predominantly white quilts, I imagine these on the girls’ bunkbeds in the absolutely perfect next house, their room softly lit with gentle sunshine while they play on the floor nearby, the scatter of only the most instagrammable of their toys surrounding them, and then reality hits.  That much white, for a six and four year old, is asking more of my daughters than is seriously reasonable.  At the very least we need a little something to break up the white.

So my plan is to start with the concept of the diamond, but add in a corner to corner X made up of tiny scrap blocks.  I’m thinking nine tiny squares to a block, or possibly five; whatever adds colour without taking away from the original.

Target completion date is probably Christmas 2017 so I’ve got a bit of time to play around; what would you do?

Family Finished Handmade

Traubenhyazinthe {handmade}

03/02/2017

If you’ve been following any of my Little Loves videos over on YouTube you’ll know that I’ve been doing a little bit of top secret knitting of late.  I rather gave the impression that it might be a baby knit but while I do have babies to knit for this year, it was very definitely not a baby knit.

My Dad’s birthday was on Wednesday and by the miracle of the Royal Mail, there was a nice squishy parcel waiting for him to open (and put on straight away).

Space for the Butterflies - Wollmeise Traubenhyazinthe

Socks seems such a stereotypical sort of a present to give to your father; past the stereotype and into pastiche perhaps, but these are no ordinary socks.

The colour is Traubenhyazinthe, grape hyacinth, and if the name hasn’t already given the game away, the yarn is of course the wonder that is Wollmeise Twin.

Space for the Butterflies - Wollmeise Traubenhyazinthe

This isn’t part of the stash that came home with us this summer, that’s all marked for Kitty, John or me as sure as if we’d added name labels, but I have a little pre-existing stash from years past, mostly from when there was an enormous Wollmeise stand at Knit Nation the year Kitty was born, and this was from then, and I love it as much now as I did then.

It seemed rather appropriate too to be knitting yarn named for a spring flower for a birthday at the start of spring.  Although while I can see the grape hyacinth colours in the yarn, for me it’s got shades of home; the deep turquoise of the sea on a brilliantly sunny day, against th eblue sky that you only see lying on your back watching clouds at midsummer.

If it wasn’t named after flowers it should have been called King Neptune (Konig Neptum for what it’s worth!)

Space for the Butterflies - Wollmeise Traubenhyazinthe

The socks themselves are a slight tweak to my standard pattern; I usually knit a 68st sock for Dad but on the cuff the ribbing was pooling the pattern into vertical lines that just looked all wrong and didn’t do the yarn even the hint of justice.  I started again on 64sts and the colours swirled beautifully on the cuff but then pooled on the leg, so the cuff is 64sts and the rest of the sock is over 68, having added 4 stitches to the first round of stocking stitch.

It’s not so big a change as to alter the fit, but it makes them beautiful rather than occasionally oddly pooling; and if you’re going to spend every spare moment you can find in January adding a stitch or two, then they really ought to be beautiful.

Space for the Butterflies - Wollmeise Traubenhyazinthe

And by the time we Facetimed Dad to sing Happy Birthday, they were proudly worn; Dad knows that they’re not just socks, they’re hours of my time, when I didn’t have a huge amount to give.  He knows he’s wearing love, in 24,000 stitches (and a smidge if we’re being tecnically accurate)

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

 

Embroidery Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Handmade for Kitty Knitting

A pair of Urchins {handmade for Kitty and Elma}

20/01/2017

Every now and then I knit something entirely on a whim.

For the most part, my knitting planning runs far far ahead of my fingers’ ability to keep up, as does my sewing and quilting planning for that matter.  Right now I have three projects on the needles, including my big crochet blanket, and the next seven projects lined up ready and waiting.  Even if I haven’t bought all the yarn I need for all of them yet, I know what they’ll be and in what order.  But of course  no one likes being told what to do, even when you’re the one telling yourself, and a little rearranging of the plan is in order.

Space for the Butterflies - Urchin by Ysolda Teague in Rowan Big Wool

So it was with these Urchins.  The initial whim was about wanting to make sure I’d put as much time into Kitty’s handmade Christmas as I had in knitting Elma a cardigan.  When what look to be a relatively simple skort still took me all day to put together, I realised that was silly, and shelved the three rows of hat in favour of getting as much of John’s Christmas socks done before the big day.

But after Christmas, and searching around for a nice portable project to take up to my inlaws as car and chatting knitting, I picked it back up again.  Kitty’s hat whizzed off the needles and was finished while we were there, and while Elma had to wait for me to get home to cast on, smaller hats take less time.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings, a photo project for 2017

Both hats are loved, both hats are worn, and both hats are left at school and so I need to nip back to my Siblings photos for this month for the only evidence of the girls wearing their hats at the same time.

Each hat is knit from one ball of Rowan Big Wool, in I think the colour Champion, at least that looks the nearest on the shade card.  This is moderately deep stash yarn, easily from before the children, saved waiting for a perfect project, and it works brilliantly for Urchin.

Space for the Butterflies - Urchin by Ysolda Teague in Rowan Big Wool

It’s not a hard pattern to knit; you make petal shapes knitting back and forth and graft the ends to make a hat, but like every other Ysolda pattern I’ve made, it’s very clever, and what at the first petal looks incredibly strange, turns into a beautiful beret shaped hat before you know it.

And with that little detour out of the way, I’m back to my plans as before. Well almost.  Because if I’m being honest here, the person who has worn both of these hats the most is a certain tiny wee boy named Pip.  He tried on Kitty’s and it was too big, he tried on Elma’s but it was too beloved by Elma, and then he looked up at me, in firm belief in the power of his Mama’s needles, and said the immortal words: “where mine hat Mama?!”

I’m going to have to do some stash diving for something suitable I suspect – any pattern recommendations?

Also coming under the finish line this week is the first of my Christmas tree decorations for 2017.  Yes really.  Every Christmas I end up collecting a handful of cross stitch and papercraft magazines with gorgeous little cover kits and I swear that I’m going to make them over Christmas and then get far too caught up in the actual getting ready for Christmas and usually some high speed finishing of the Christmas presents to sit down to do a little truly indulgent making.

Space for the Butterflies - Cross Stitcher Cover Kit

Starting in the autumn never works because of a proliferation of birthdays and even Christmas in July passed me by so I’m sewing for Christmas in January.  This is the first that I’ve finished, the cover kit from November’s Cross Stitcher, and even if my sewing up isn’t quite perfect, I love how it turned out.  Now all I have to do is not loose it before next December!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Pip Pip

How to make a child’s apron {handmade for Pip}

06/01/2017

Four days before Christmas I wandered through town waiting for inspiration to strike.  I’d bought the buttons for Elma’s Wee Chickadee and nearly finished Kitty’s Toy Box Skort and I had nothing mama-made for Pip save for four inches of inky blue hem, and even to my eternally optimistic mind, not nearly enough days in which to finish it.  I needed a plan.

Trousers I couldn’t get the ribbing I wanted, anything more complicated with an actual pattern was going to end up half finished, and shorts didn’t exactly seem weather appropriate even if tiny princes wear them all year round.  Inspiration came to me at Cath Kidston.  Lots of things come to me at Cath Kidston, usually wrapped up in one of their nice blue bags and accompanied by a receipt and the groaning of my bank card, but this time it was free, and rather appropriate.

The fact is, I have a bit of an apron obsession collection.  There are coming up to a dozen usually hanging from the kitchen door; stripy ones, John’s Christmas one, a Mickey Mouse one from Disney and the beautiful butterfly one that my mother gave me at my baby shower for Kitty and has never ever been used.  And quite a few Cath Kidston ones because they’re just so pretty.

Pip loves helping in the kitchen, especially when it gets to be just him and his Daddy, but he doesn’t have a pinny unless one of his sisters is out or not interested and then he gets theirs.  Staring at the pretty display of floral beauties, the penny dropped.

As dusk turned to dark I dashed back to the fabric shop and there found some thick red cotton, near identical to John’s apron, some stripy ticking, and a couple of D-rings.  It made up into an apron in an evening, and while Pip was initially a bit puzzled as to what he’d been given, when he’d sorted out the back to fronts and upside downs and put it on, I think it met with approval.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron

And because it looks really sweet on him, because I’m never going to be the only one in need of an emergency handmade present, or with a neglected third child who doesn’t have an apron, I’ve made a little tutorial.  In my best Blue Peter spirit, here’s how to make a child’s apron:

Before we start I should stress that this is a big apron on him; Pip is a very tall two, currently wearing age 3-4 clothes, and nearer the 4 on a number of them, and this comes down past his knees and goes nearly all the way round him. Knowing Pip as I do, this is definitely a good thing.  In a cotton I don’t think that’s a problem because it will happily bend with him but if you were to make it out of oilcloth or something really heavy it might be more of a straightjacket.

Also, fabric is sold in metric in the UK so I’ve given requirements in cm, but despite being entirely educated in the metric system, I cook and sew in inches because that’s what my Mum taught me, so the measurements are in inches.

 

As well as the usual sewing accoutrements you will need:

  • 60cm medium to heavyweight cotton (sometimes described as decorator weight cotton).
  • 30cm ticking, or other mediumweight cotton for the pocket and ties.
  • Two inch wide D rings.
  • Tailor’s Chalk or other removable marker (air erase, water erase etc)
  • To be able to see this pattern:

Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron

How to:

  1. Fold your fabric in half raw edge to raw edge.
  2. Measure and draw onto the folded fabric the apron outline, making sure that the long side is at the fold, and cut along those lines.  You could just sketch out the whole apron and cut it out that way but by cutting on the fold you ensure that the two sides are the same.
  3. Hem the armholes.  Fold the curved edged in 1/4″ to the wrong side and press, then fold in a further 1/4″ and press again.  Edge stitch the hems to secure.  You will find that the edges fold in easily as they are cut on the bias.
  4. Hem the sides. Fold the sides in 1/4″ to the wrong side and press, then fold in a further 1/4″ and press again.  Edge stitch the hems to secure.
  5. Hem the top. Repeat as for the sides.
  6. Hem the bottom. Fold the bottom hem 1″ to the wrong side and press, then fold in a further 1″, press and edge stitch to secure.  This hem is deeper than the others to give a bit of weight to the bottom of the apron and help it hang nicely.  It’s also a great excuse for fancy embroidery stitches if your sewing machine does that.
    Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron
  7. Make the pocket.  Cut a rectangle 5 1/2″ high by 9 3/4″ wide from the striped ticking. If you cut it the other way round don’t worry, you’ll have slightly shorter ties but they’ll still be plenty long enough. Fold in half, press to mark the centre fold, then open up again. Hem the top of the pocket as for the sides of the apron (step 4).  Fold the remaining three sides 1/4″ to the wrong side and press.
  8. Stitch the pocket to the apron.  The centre fold of the pocket should line up with the centre fold of the apron, and the top of the pocket should line up[where] below the start of the armholes. I include a central line of vertical stitching to divide it into two pockets rather than one big pocket that might become baggy with time but that’s optional.
  9. Make the ties.  Cut the width of your fabric by 2 1/2″.  Fold wrong sides together lengthways and sew around one short seam and the long seam with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Turn the right way round.
  10. Repeat to make two very long ties.  From this you should have enough length to cut two waist ties at 27″ each, the neck strap at 24″ and a 4″ piece to form the loop for the D-rings.
    Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron
  11. Attach a waist tie at the bottom of the armhole on each side of the apron, tucking raw edges in as you go. I like to do a square with a cross in it for extra sturdiness.
  12. Threading the D-rings into the loop before sewing, attach both ends of the 4″ strap to the top right corner of the apron (as you would wear it), and the neck strap to the top left, again, tucking in raw edges as you do.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron

And there you have it, one apron just ready to tie on and get making a giant mess cooking jaffa cakes (or is that just my children?)

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for A Lively Style

Space for the Butterflies - how to make a child's apron

Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma

Chickadee {handmade for Elma}

04/01/2017

There are a handful of knitting patterns that I have loved since they were released but never yet knitted.  Most of the time it’s because the right yarn would require shopping, and waiting for it to arrive, and it’s passed over for the instant gratification of another pair of socks, or a little something that’s worked its way to the top strata of the stash.

The love is constant, never wains, and while they may only make it higher up the mental “knit this next” list by a sort of hydraulic pressure from finished projects, neither are they deleted.

Ysolda’s Chickadee pattern is on the list, and so is, or rather, was, Wee Chickadee.

If we’re going to be bluntly honest here, knitting woolies for my children is not the most cost effective way of clothing them.  I like to knit in natural fibres, to the point that I can think of only a couple of yarns in the entire stash where there’s anything extra.  Lovely yarn doesn’t come cheap, and without a shadow of a doubt, I could buy something that would keep the winter chill off for less than the yarn.

There are of course a hundred and one reasons why handmade jumpers still win; the natural fibres, adjusting the fit for my very tall children, being wrapped in the physical expression of their Mama’s love, even when she’s not there, and the buttons. Choosing buttons is at least five reasons in itself.  But there’s got to be some balance in the middle and what it means is that when a cardigan for Elma will take four balls of yarn (ish), buying an extra three because I want to do some colourwork has got to be really worth it.

There was never any doubt that either Chickadee was anything less than awesome; I’ve yet to knit one of Ysolda’s patterns that doesn’t turn out beautifully and make you feel terribly clever in the bargain, but my yarn budget is not unlimited and so it sat, unmoving, on my list.

Years and *cough* lots of years ago, I’d bought three skeins of Quince & Co’s Chickadee, in Delft, Nasturtium and Frost, just to have a little play with.  It was new to the market, knitters were raving about it all over the internet and it was irresistibly soft and plump in person.

Those three skeins sat in my stash, and every now and then I’d pick them up and pet them, and put them back while I went on looking for whatever I needed.  And somehow, and this is where it must have been some sort of knitting magic, my rummaging through the boxes brought four balls of Rowan Pure Wool DK up to the top to sit next to them.

I pulled out the box and there it was, a favourite colour combination all laid out ready to be knit.

Space for the Butterflies: Wee Chickadee, Ysolda Teague, Rowan Pure Wool DK, Quince & Co Chickadee in Delft, Nasturtium and Frost

Now the knitting fates are not that kind and there was one ever so teeny tiny slight hitch; this is DK yarn and the pattern is knit for 4ply. But what’s the point of having two maths A-levels if you can’t occasionally put them to good use.  One set of scribbles calculations on the back of an envelope and I cast on the aged 2 size on 3.75mm needles with the fairly confident expectation that it would end up somewhere between the age 4 and the age 6.

I think I ended up nearer to the 6 than the 4 and it is definitely on the big side for Elma at the moment, but the joy of children is that they grow, and I firmly expect it to be perfect for the middle of August when no doubt it will be colder than it was on Christmas Day!

Space for the Butterflies: Wee Chickadee, Ysolda Teague, Rowan Pure Wool DK, Quince & Co Chickadee in Delft, Nasturtium and Frost

It was a lovely project to knit; interesting in the colourwork and nice and soothing in the ‘my brain does not need any more adventures today’ expanse of nave blue, and I can easily see myself repeating the trick to make a larger size if she ever when she grows out of this one.

Space for the Butterflies: Wee Chickadee, Ysolda Teague, Rowan Pure Wool DK, Quince & Co Chickadee in Delft, Nasturtium and Frost

As well as being interesting, and only a handful of rows, those little birds gave me a schooling in colourwork.  I’ve made a good few stranded knits over the years, including the Magnum Opus Alice Starmore blankets for Kitty, Elma and Pip and I’m pretty competent at knitting with one yarn in each hand, and it gives me nicely spaces floats and pretty stitches.  But I’ve never paid that much attention to which yarn is in which hand, I’ve always used whichever was the most comfortable, usually the yarn with the most stitches in my right hand.  But when I tried that on these little birds, or rather, on their border ribbon, having the orange in my dominant right hand in the first row, and thereby the upper float but in the other hand and the lower float on the next, the two rows blended into one and all I could see was an uneven straight band of orange.  I could sort of push and pull it into place but it just wasn’t having it as a permenant solution.

Space for the Butterflies: Wee Chickadee, Ysolda Teague, Rowan Pure Wool DK, Quince & Co Chickadee in Delft, Nasturtium and Frost

I pulled back to the start of the colourwork, and set out again, each hand sticking strictly to each colour and it worked; all swoops and swirls just as they should be.  I’m not sure I’ll ever entirely cure myself of the habit of letting the main colour be dominant, but on little projects, or on a line I particularly want to make pop, it’s a new skill worth knowing.

Space for the Butterflies: Wee Chickadee, Ysolda Teague, Rowan Pure Wool DK, Quince & Co Chickadee in Delft, Nasturtium and Frost

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for A Lively Style